The launch of the State of the World’s Children 2012 Report in Nepal
Cities are failing children, UNICEF warns
At the launch of the State of the World’s Children 2012 Report in Nepal
KATHMANDU, 05 March 2012 – Urbanization leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, UNICEF warns in The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World, released today in Kathmandu.
Greater urbanization is inevitable and in a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population.
According to the report, 19 per cent of the total population of Nepal are already living in urban areas with the annual growth rate of urbanization by 6 per cent. The projected average annual growth rate of urban population in next two decades is 4.1 per cent.
The report was launched in Nepal today in Kathmandu by the UNICEF Representative, Ms Hanaa Singer, at an event chaired by Mr. Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice-Chair of National Planning Commission. The global launch of the report was undertaken by the UNICEF Executive Director in Mexico City last week on 28th February.
“When people think of poverty, they tend to focus on a child in a remote rural village,” said Ms. Hanaa Singer. “But today, an increasing number of children living in urban centres are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world. They live tantalisingly close to essential, basic services but are deprived of the most them.”
Cities offer many children the advantages of urban schools, clinics and playgrounds. Yet the same cities the world over are also the settings for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities.
A survey conducted by Kathmandu Metropolitan City in slum areas of Kathmandu in 2009/2010 showed that there are 28 slum settlements in the valley in which conditions are very poor. For example, 40 per cent of births in these slums took place without any medical assistance, 50 per cent of pregnant women do not go for any kind of pregnancy tests, and seven per cent of people in slums do not seek medical help for any ailment. While a full 32 per cent of children in the slum settlements are not immunized.
Meanwhile, 5,000 children are living or working on the streets, according to State of the Rights of the Child in Nepal 2004 report. Some NGOs estimate that 10 to 15,000 women and girls are trafficked to India annually, while 7,500 children are trafficked domestically for commercial sexual exploitation.
In releasing the report Ms. Singer noted that city infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth rates and children’s basic needs are not being met. Families living in poverty often pay far more relatively for a whole range of substandard services. The problems are compounded in Nepal as many slums and informal settlements are located near the riverbanks where children are exposed to hazardous sanitation conditions. As a result, there are serious health implications including cases of diarrhoea/cholera outbreaks among these populations, especially children.
Ms Singer highlighted that UNICEF is already supporting a number of urban initiatives in education, HIV and child protection areas but that a renewed focus needs to be made. She highlighted three key steps that need to be made. First that better, more reliable and well disaggregated data needs to be collected so that essential services can be identified and targeted in cities,. Second that community based action has worked in the rural areas of Nepal and would certainly work well in the cities too if encouraged and supported. And third, that the government and its partners need to invest in children by putting them at the heart of urban planning
“Urbanization is a fact of life and one of the greatest challenges we all face today.” said Ms Singer. “We must all invest more in cities as the emerging and growing problems associated with the disparities of wealth and access to essential services in cities will not solve themselves.”
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UNICEF is on the ground in over 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org
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